Fraud watch alert: Be on the lookout after major storms and weather [Infographic]
When a major storm or severe weather event moves through a region and causes damage, homeowners are understandably motivated to find a contractor who can make repairs as soon as possible. No one wants to wait any longer than necessary if their roof or siding is damaged.
But homeowners should beware that prioritizing speed by hiring a contractor who knocks on the door before they’ve had a chance to check references or talk with their insurance company can be an invitation for fraud.
While the majority of contractors are honest, contractor fraud is a real problem and often follows major weather events like hailstorms, windstorms and hurricanes, says John Sokit, associate vice president of Nationwide’s Special Investigations Unit.
“It’s not uncommon for customers to tell us of contractors who knocked on their doors promising a quick repair after a hailstorm or windstorm,” said Sokit. “Homeowners think this is the answer to their prayers, but then the contractor is suddenly using high-pressure tactics, asking for cash down payments or telling them they need to sign a Power of Attorney so they can negotiate with the insurance company. These are all red flags.”
If a homeowner finds themselves in this situation, there are steps they can take to protect themselves, Sokit said. The first step is contacting their insurance company as soon as damage is suspected. Insurance companies can often assist in locating contractors or point homeowners in the direction of a reputable source of contractors, such as the local Better Business Bureau. Homeowners should also check a contractor’s references and be sure they seek out multiple quotes.
For more advice, follow tips from our infogrphic below, After the storm: Ways to avoid fraud.